Study: Breastfeeding won't turn your kid into an Einstein

A new study on the long-term cognitive effects of breastfeeding is giving parents and parents-to-be something more to consider as they decide how to feed their infants.

Researchers in Ireland studied 7,500 children carried full term. By age three, kids who had been breastfed for at least six months were less likely to be hyper-active and had better problem-solving skills than formula-fed kids. By age five, researchers found the gap between the groups in terms of cognitive development shrank to the point of being statistically negligible.

NEWSTALK 1010 medical correspondent Dr. Mitch Shulman doesn't think the study should upend deliberations of moms and moms-to-be about whether or not to breastfeed.

"Don't do it if your only reason for doing it is you want to create an Einstein or an Einsteiness," Shulman said.

But Shulman says the study doesn't erase the proven benefits of breastfeeding, including helping to form a bond between mom and baby and immunity to illness passed on through breast milk.

Shulman maintains breast is best, but stresses that moms should not feel pressured to breastfeed.

"There's a tremendous degree of shaming for a woman who just can't, for all kinds of valid, legitimate reasons," Shulman said. "The baby will still turn out nifty, it will still have a great future. As long as the environment it's growing up in is a loving, caring, nurturing environment and the parents are doing all they can to support that child, then that is the most important thing at the end of the day.